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McSweeney: Redirect cash from Obama center to Illinois roads

Barrington Hills Republican files bill to juggle $180 million

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills
State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills

State Rep. David McSweeney has filed a bill in Springfield aiming to redirect $180 million in Illinois’ budget for the Barack Obama Presidential Center to the state’s general road fund.

On July 23, the Barrington Hills Republican filed House Bill 5934 – proposed legislation sponsored by state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton; state Rep. John Cabello, R-Loves Park; and state Rep. Brad Halbrook, R-Shelbyville.

“[The center] should be privately funded,” McSweeney said. 

The proposed legislation repeals an appropriation from the state’s road fund to the Department of Transportation for a $180 million grant to the Chicago Department of Transportation to support the Barack Obama Presidential Center.

It’s not an “anti-Obama” move, said McSweeney, who supports the center named after the 44th president. Public dollars should not be spent on that kind of infrastructure, McSweeney said.

Instead, that money should go toward improving roads across Illinois, he said.

Groundbreaking for the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago will be delayed until next year because of a delay in the federal review process.

The project remains under federal review because the park is on the National Register of Historic Place. The center’s foundation must secure a contract to lease the parkland from the city and raise more money from private donors to fund the $500 million project.

A nonprofit group is suing to block construction of the facility, alleging that only the city had the authority to transfer the public park land to the Obama Foundation to house the Barack Obama Presidential Center.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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